CLASSICAL GAS --
Contains 100% gossip from concentrate
Improving Public Opinion
A new public opinion poll that will be able to gather data more quickly, more often -- and much more accurately -- than current polls will soon be available.
The "Typical American Poll" is being organized by several of the U.S.'s major public opinion research organizations. It is sponsored jointly by the Republican and Democratic political parties, by several professional sports leagues, and by a consortium of domestic automobile manufacturers.
A panel of two hundred statistically typical citizens is being recruited. They will be permanently relocated to the poll's live-in research center in Des Moines, Iowa, where they will be instantly available at all times for polling.
Each of the panel members will exactly match (with only a .6% error) the criteria which have been found to demographically characterize the typical American.
Abundance of Personality
The number of personalities that an accused research grant embezzler says are contained within her psyche increased to eight last month as testimony continued in U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan.
In a hostile interchange with U.S. assistant district attorney Edwin Beister, Dr. Ramona Hunt insisted she has multiple personalities. Hunt argued that her condition was not unusual among people engaged in multidisciplinary research.
The trial concerns the disappearance of more than $650,000 in funding that was to be used for studying the role neutrons play in digesting fatty acids. Hunt was one of five researchers involved in an earlier study concerning the relationship between plate tectonics and gastroenterology motility. The findings of that study are not in question.
Waiting for Goddard
A group of aerospace scientists at Louis University in Paris may be nearing the long-sought goal of producing a cheap, low mass rocket fuel. This development could spark a new golden age of space exploration and experimentation.
The research team, lead by Pierre Latour, Lucien Raimbourg, Vladimir Estragon and Luciano Pozzo, is experimenting with ultra-distilled recycled biomass. The raw material is obtained from urban garbage recycling programs.
The key aspect of the biomass conversion process was developed by Dr. Samuel O. Goddard, a descendant of American rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard. Goddard the younger is a biochemist whose work has centered on the analysis of fruit peelings.
Voice of Experience
There appears to be a reliable test to identify individuals who are truly experienced at their profession. It was developed by Marilyn Darling, a senior researcher at Signet Network, Ltd.
Darling tape records conversations with the individuals and then searches the printed transcripts for keyword indicators. She has identified a simple indicator is approximately 87% effective in identifying experienced individuals. "If the person's conversation includes, even once, the phrase 'never again,' then that person is likely to be truly experienced," according to Darling.
Darling originally began the work as part of her research into selecting workers from among a pool of applicants. She says the technique may also be applicable to identifying individuals who are experienced in other domains, such as marriage, parenthood, and accounting.
Improved Cosmological Constant
The cosmological constant will be adjusted on January 1, 1992, to bring it into accordance with predicted values. The International Academy of Physical Constants will add .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000017 to the current value.
The cosmological constant last underwent adjustment on January 1, 1968.
Extended-Wear Chewing Gum
What chews around comes around. If you chew a piece of gum for more than five days, it begins to have a "second wind" of flavor, it has been discovered. Roberto Kurosh-Coltin of the Rund Corporation has been conducting gum studies since 1963. Kurosh-Coltin has not identified the chemical changes underlying the phenomenon, but says it may be somewhat analagous to the stress fatigue exhibited by metals undergoing prolongued intensive use in heavy mechanical equipment.
The "second wind" flavor is usually different from, although perceptually related to, the gum's original flavor. In some types of gum a fermentation process accompanies, and perhaps partially accounts for the change.
Placebos: Good News
The severe shortage of reliable placebos may soon be a thing of the past, according to a report published by The Placebo Institute. "The bioengineering revolution is giving us new ways to synthesize previously rare materials," explained Jamie Watt, the Institute's director of research. "I hesitate to use the word, but it seems almost miraculous."
However, Watt cautions that some shortages will still occur. "This is a big breakthrough," he said, "but we're not sure it's a panacea."
Artificial Intelligence: Mite is About Right
A panel of senior scientists in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have published what they describe as "a realistic set of goals for the next twenty years." The panelists say they are trying to counter the "persistent pipe dreams and expectations" raised by the government and the news media.
The U.S. Government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has recommended pursuing a goal of reproducing the brain capacity of a bee by 1995. Most AI researchers, however, believe that goal to be hopelessly beyond reach in the near term, and many have ridiculed DARPA's recommendations. "A bee is capable of amazingly complex behavior," points out Thomas C. Maccarone, the principle author of the new unofficial guidelines. "We think everyone would be better off aiming for something at least vaguely within reach -- like a dust mite."
Maccarone says that even a dust mite exhibits some behavior that is too complex for researchers to understand. "But," he says, "a dust mite is a good metaphor for AI workers to think about. Right now AI is more a collection of metaphors than a collecton of technologies, and the last thing we all need is some guy at DARPA who has a bee in his bonnet and who wants us to simulate it. So let's all go out and try to make us a dust mite!"
© Copyright 2002 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
This is a HotAIR classical feature. For a complete listing of AIR features, see What's New.